Category Archives: York

University Appoints New Chair Of Council

The University has announced that Dr Alice Maynard CBE will be the new Chair of its governing body.

The University’s Council is responsible for the development and overall performance of the University, with the Chair setting out a challenging but supportive environment to enable senior leadership teams to deliver against its institutional strategy.


Alice brings a wealth of experience to the role, having worked in senior leadership positions in both the public and private sectors.

An experienced non-executive director and trustee, Alice is currently a Non-Executive Director at the Financial Conduct Authority and until recently, held similar roles at the HMRC as well as Transport for London, where she was also Chair of its Independent Disability Advisory Group.

In addition to her extensive experience in leadership and governance, Alice is also a highly regarded expert in the field of disability rights, having been recognised with a CBE for her services to disabled people.


She is founder and Director of Future Inclusion, an organisation working to encourage good governance, inclusive practice and ethical business. Prior to this, Alice forged a career in IT and was also Head of Disability Strategy for Network Rail. She was also Chair of the UK’s leading disability equality charity, Scope, from 2008 – 2014.

Alice graduated from the University of York with a BA in Languages, and also holds an MBA and a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA).

Since graduating, she continues to support York’s fundraising efforts and received an honorary degree from the University in 2014 for her role in championing inclusivity and access. Until recently, Alice also served on the advisory board of the University’s new School for Business and Society.


Alice said: “This is a brilliant opportunity to contribute to an organisation that has a really strong sense of ambition and purpose.”

“For anyone choosing to pursue higher education, it can be truly transformational, with university research and education helping build a society that is strong, resilient and innovative in its thinking.”

“Taking on the role of Chair of Council – and working in higher education – will be a new experience for me, but one which I will relish with York.”

Public Good

The Chair of Council does not become involved in the day-to-day executive management of the University, which is the responsibility of the Vice-Chancellor.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Charlie Jeffery, said: “We welcome Alice to York to be our new Chair of Council. The appointment panel identified her as being highly personable, pragmatic and passionate about the role universities can play.”

“This certainly resonates with York’s public good mission, through her unstinting commitment to inclusion and how she has championed this for the benefit of others.”

“With Alice’s experience, expertise and values, she is an ideal leader for the Council as our governing body and trustee board.”


Alice begins her tenure as Chair of Council on 1 August 2023, and joined Council as an independent member in the first instance in early March 2023.

The University has also expressed its gratitude to outgoing Chair, Denise Jagger, for her invaluable contribution to the University’s governance over the past 10 years, including the last five years as Chair of Council.

Oak National Academy Award To Develop Science In Schools

Researchers at the University of York have been awarded £1.4 million to develop online science materials for schools.

The University of York Science Education Group (UYSEG) and the Centre for Industry Education Collaboration (CIEC), part of the Department of Chemistry at York, will work together to develop lesson resources for teachers and pupils covering the primary and secondary science curriculum in England, age 5-16.

Working with the Oak National Academy, the curriculum resources will draw on the expertise and work of both groups and will be developed by members of UYSEG’s Best Evidence Science Teaching (BEST) project team and CIEC, working with expert science teachers across the country.


The materials will support teachers to engage in evidence-informed practice, to improve and develop resources, a current key Government initiative in education.

Professor Judith Bennett, Department of Education and part of UYSEG, at the University of York, said: “The provision of high-quality digital resources, built around a well-structured curriculum, and underpinned by the best educational research, will be an invaluable resource for use in science classrooms.”

UYSEG aims to support science education through the development and evaluation of curriculum resources that translate science education research into practical classroom resources, as well as producing research that influences policy and improves training and support for education practitioners.

Knowledge and skills

Joy Parvin, Director of CIEC said: ”As well as developing a full suite of resources for Key Stages 1 and 2, we will be collaborating with our secondary colleagues to smooth transition from Key Stage 2 to 3, thus building on the knowledge and skills children have gained during their primary years.”

The CIEC team of six primary science specialists and dedicated science education researchers, engage in a wide range of primary science initiatives, nationally and internationally, focusing on the development of primary science resources and the delivery of continuing professional development.


Professor Paul Wakeling, Head of the Department of Education, said “The project builds on a long and distinguished tradition of research and curriculum-focussed work in science education at York which helps science teachers to improve pupils’ learning”

Matt Hood, Chief Executive of Oak National Academy, said: “Every part of the education sector – from trusts to publishers to subject associations – are part of this collaboration, forming a coalition of top-tier expertise. It means teachers will have access to some of the smartest curriculum thinking and resource design on tap, something they have told us they want.”

“Our subject expert groups are a truly diverse mix of classroom teachers and subject experts from across the sector and have a vital role in providing feedback on our curricula and resources as they are developed to make sure they meet the needs of teachers whatever their school and context.”

Strategic Partnership For University Of York

The University of York has signed a strategic partnership agreement with O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) that will support student mobility opportunities and academic collaboration.

JGU is ranked as India’s Number 1 Private University and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two institutions will lead to a number of initiatives, including PhD projects, academic research partnerships, and student exchanges in areas including politics, law, sustainability, film and music studies, and public health.

JGU is recognised as an Institution of Eminence by the Ministry of Education and was established through a philanthropic initiative of its Founding Chancellor, Mr. Naveen Jindal.

International Learning
Professor Charlie Jeffery, Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, said: “I would like to thank our colleagues in India for this opportunity to work together to provide our students with a truly international learning experience, and collaborate on research that will make a difference to people’s lives globally.”

“Underpinning our relationship is our shared mission to bring graduates into the global workplace fully equipped to deliver their knowledge in a way that allows communities anywhere in the world to flourish.”

Lasting Benefits
JGU is ranked as India’s Number 1 Private University by the QS World University Rankings, and was also recognised among the Top 150 universities globally under the age of 50 years by the QS Young University Rankings 2022.

Professor C. Raj Kumar said: “We welcome our colleagues from York, and look forward to an exciting future together where our combined expertise will create lasting benefits for society.”

“International collaboration is essential to breaking down barriers, providing solutions to significant global challenges, and producing the next generation of experts in fields that will improve the ways in which we live and work.”

New Study Into Interference For Trilingual Speakers

People who speak more than two languages are more likely to mistakenly use words from the language they’re least proficient in, new research has shown.

Participants were asked to name pictures in their three languages
The study, led by Dr Angela de Bruin, from the Department of Psychology at the University of York, looked at which of the other languages spoken by trilinguals ‘interfered’ when they were speaking their second language.

Dr de Bruin said: “Intuitively, you would expect these intrusions to mostly come from your most proficient language, for example the first language you grew up speaking from birth. However, our recent research shows that when having to use a less proficient second language, multilinguals actually experience more interference from another less proficient third language than from their native tongue.”

The study, conducted at the University of York and the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, looked at two groups of trilinguals: Spanish-Basque-English trilinguals in the Basque Country and English-French-Spanish trilinguals in the UK.

Participants were asked to name pictures in their three languages in response to a cue. For example, when seeing the picture of an “apple” with the Spanish flag, they would have to say “manzana”. The participants were presented these pictures for a short period of time to make the task difficult.

The team then assessed which language interfered more when trilinguals had to use their second language. In both groups of trilinguals, participants more often accidentally used their third language than their first language, showing that this interference between non-native languages can be found across different trilingual groups.

Supressed Words
The research team also studied why this might be the case. In two other tasks, they tested how participants suppressed words in the other languages while using their second language. They found that the trilinguals suppressed words in their first language more than in their third.

Dr de Bruin says: “This could explain why these trilinguals experienced more interference from their less proficient third language: they might have suppressed that language less, leading to them accidentally using that language instead.”

Many people are able to communicate in more than one language and approximately a quarter of the European population can even speak three or more languages.

Role & Influence
The research conducted by Dr de Bruin is based on personal experience. She says: “When I tried to speak German in Germany after moving to Spain I was trying to buy a bus ticket and I noticed I almost uncontrollably switched between German and Spanish and inserted Spanish words like “por favor” without wanting to. Although my native language Dutch is very similar to German, this interference was not coming from Dutch but rather from Spanish, a language I was far less fluent in.”

She concludes: “This study shows that just knowing words in a language might not be enough to ensure fluent communication. It is also crucial to retrieve the words in the intended language at the appropriate moment and to avoid interference from the other language(s). Trilinguals might have less experience with, or might be worse at, suppressing a less proficient language and might therefore experience more interference from that language.”

“Interestingly, whilst we often focus on the role and influence of a first language, our study highlights the importance of understanding how languages that are acquired later in childhood or adolescence can influence each other. Fluent communication in those languages might not just require a certain level of knowledge in that language but also efficient control over the other languages.”

The study is published in the Journal of Memory and Language

Yorkshire Pair Finish Snow Sculpture

Two Yorkshire men have been competing with artists from all over the world in their second snow sculpture competition this month, completing their creation in record time.

Fitness coach Martin Sharp, from York, and tree surgeon Justin Scott, from Driffield, were pitted against sculptors from Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, France and the United States in the Kiruna International Snow Sculpture Competition 2023. The pair completed their sculpture, known as Figurative Animate X Three, in just two days, which was the new record for the event, which is held 140km north of the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland.

The creation – an abstract human figure with three sides – was the second snow sculpture created by the team in January. They had already competed in Shapes in White, an international snow sculpture competition in Austria, where their snow boat called Unsinkable 2 was awarded ninth place.

Martin, who runs the fitness and lifestyle coaching business Sharp Fit For Life, said it was the first time they had entered the Kiruna contest and the experience had been completely different.

The 45-year-old said: “In Austria, we were working on top of a mountain at high altitudes, whereas here we were sculpting in a city with everyday life going on around us. As it was lower altitude, we didn’t get tired as quickly so it felt easier and we were delighted to be the first to finish our sculpture in just two days.”

“It took us about 15 or 16 hours in total – the snow was very soft, which meant we could pile through it quickly but the finish wasn’t as crisp as we’d hoped. There has also been a great sense of camaraderie between the sculptors with people sharing ideas and borrowing tools.”

“The thing we have really enjoyed is that lots of people have been coming to watch the sculptures take form, including lots of children. There have been school parties coming to take a look and have a go at creating their own smaller snow sculptures and high school students worked with two sculptors to create a play park made out of snow.”

Although the pair weren’t named as the winner or runner-up, they were proud of their efforts and celebrated finishing with some traditional Lapland activities including dog sledding, a skidoo ride and a visit to an ice hotel.

Work Starts On New £4.5 Million York Business Park

Marrtree Investments has begun work on a new 2.4 acre business park on the site of the former B&M store at Clifton Moor in York. The developer will have invested £4.5m in the scheme on completion, which will create 27,000 sq ft of modern business space across four units ranging from 4,000 sq ft to 8,000 sq ft, as well as a Starbucks drive-through café, and will generate dozens of new jobs for the city.

Marrtree Business Park, York, will be the latest in the North Yorkshire-based developer’s portfolio of over 20 business parks, which are located strategically across the north of England. Phase II of the firm’s 70,000 sq ft development at Sowerby Gateway, the new 950-home scheme near Thirsk, was completed in October and is expected to create 40 new jobs for the area.

William Marshall, director of Marrtree Investments, said: “We are really pleased to be bringing more of the high-quality modern business space, for which Marrtree has become well known, to York. Since the pandemic, well-thought-out, ergonomic workplaces, where people actively want to come to work each day, have become more important than ever and that’s what we aim to deliver with all our business parks and the kind of space that is in short supply for York employers.”

The new units are due for completion in the autumn and the developer says there has been considerable interest in the scheme. “We are in conversation already with a number of organisations who are considering either relocating or setting up new operations in the Clifton Moor area of the city,” said Mr Marshall.

“It’s a great location, with excellent road links and with the £65m upgrade to the York outer ring road due to get underway in the next couple of years. There are also great facilities close by, including gyms, restaurants and the Vue cinema.”

Harrogate-based HACS construction group has been appointed as main contractor for the construction of the business park, with the Leeds offices of Colliers, and Cushman & Wakefield appointed as letting agents.

Founded in Bradford in the 1940s, and now run by the third-generation brothers William and George Marshall, the Marrtree Group of companies has operated for over 80 years. With interests in commercial and residential property, quarrying and forestry, the business is now based in Harrogate.

Fitness Coach & Tree Surgeon Make Waves

Forget building a simple snowman, fitness coach Martin Sharp and tree surgeon Justin Scott have created an interactive sailing boat using snow in the Austrian Alps.

The Yorkshire-based pair have been competing in the international snow sculpture competition, Shapes in White, in Ischgl, Austria. Their entry, a snow boat known as Unsinkable 2, attracted a lot of positive comments from the judges and came in 9th place in the contest, which finished today.

Last year, Martin and Justin secured fourth place in the competition with a double decker bus-sized sculpture of Eddie the Eagle, designed to pay homage to the British ski jumper. This year’s entry was a simpler design but it allowed people to actually sit inside it and imagine they were sailing the boat through the spectacular mountains surrounding it.

Martin, who runs the fitness and lifestyle coaching business Sharp Fit For Life, said they weren’t disappointed that the risk they’d taken with this year’s design hadn’t paid off with a ranking in the top five. As the only British competitors, the pair were always going to be underdogs as there is rarely enough snowfall for them to practice their snow sculpture skills in the UK.

The 45-year-old from York said: “We’ve taken a huge pile of snow and turned it into an amazing snow boat which made people smile and had a lot of fun doing it. We absolutely loved creating this sculpture and it feels like we literally sailed it as it just came together really well.”

“Our favourite moment has been seeing the faces of everyone who has looked around the finished sculpture. They’ve all had the wow moment and they have all sat in the boat and pretended to be sailors in the middle of the mountains.”

Now the competition has finished, Martin, from York, and Justin, from Driffield, are getting ready to create another masterpiece from snow – this time in Sweden. In less than two weeks, they will be competing in the Kiruna International Snow Sculpture Competition, recreating an abstract bronze sculpture of the human form made by Justin.

It is the first time they have competed in the event, which takes place 140km north of the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland from January 25 to 29. It forms part of the Kiruna Snow Festival, which features a range of winter activities including figure skating, dog sledding and the snow blower world championship.

Martin added: “We’re really looking forward to Kiruna – the snow in that part of the world is excellent quality and it should be a great adventure. As soon as we’d finished the detail on our snow boat, we started to think about how we could best approach our next creation – we’ve even been dreaming about snow sculptures.”

New Headline Sponsor For York Design Awards 15th Anniversary

York Design Awards, which marks its 15th anniversary this year, have announced that Shepherd Group and its flagship business, modular building manufacturer Portakabin, will be the headline sponsors when the 2023 awards launch in February.

The free-to-enter awards celebrate and reward the very best in architecture and building design completed in York. Previous winners include Clifford’s Tower, York Guildhall, Lowfield Green, Jake’s Treehouse, Rowntree Park Skate Park, and a number of private residences.

Shepherd Group and Portakabin, a major employer in the city, have supported the awards for many years, and have now stepped up to be headline sponsors in 2023.

Dan Ibbetson, CEO of Shepherd Group and Portakabin said: “Shepherd Group and Portakabin are long-term supporters of the York Design Awards and we wanted to reaffirm our commitment in their 15th anniversary year. We recognise the importance of excellent architecture and design in an historic city such as York, which must also evolve and develop for the future success of the city.”

Ann Reid, Chair of the York Design Awards committee said: “The Shepherd Group’s support from the earliest days of York Design Awards and their continuing sponsorship means so much to us in keeping our Awards going. The support from our headline sponsors and our other sponsors and supporters means that the Awards remain free to enter, which makes them accessible to individuals and small community groups as well as large developers. Their generosity is both crucial and enormously appreciated.”

York Design Awards were launched in 2007 but could not go ahead in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid restrictions, making 2023 the 15th annual awards.

The launch event will take place on 28th February at The Creative Centre at York St John University, which won two York Design Awards in 2022 in the community/education and sustainability categories. Property developers, housebuilders, architects and homeowners will be invited to submit their entries, with winners announced in July.

Further details regarding the launch event will be announced later this month. To stay up to date visit the bespoke awards website here

York Fitness Coach Set For International Snow Sculpture Competition!

While most personal trainers will be spending January helping their clients stick to their New Year’s Resolutions, Martin Sharp will be taking on a different kind of challenge.

The York-based fitness coach and business consultant will be taking part in an international snow sculpture competition with Justin Scott, a tree surgeon and gardener from Driffield. The pair will be creating a snow boat called Unsinkable 2, which has been designed by Justin, an experienced and trained sculptor.

Shapes in White, the 29th international snow sculpture competition, takes place in Silvretta Arena in Ischgl, Austria, from January 8 to 14. It sees artists and sculptors from all over the world turning the piles of snow into masterpieces – some as big as 10 metres high.

Martin, who runs the fitness and lifestyle coaching business Sharp Fit For Life, said: “I’m really looking forward to the challenge – it’s a great way to start a new year. I started competing with Justin back in 2016 when his original team mate had to pull out at the last minute.”

“I’m not particularly artistic so, at first, I was really just there to shovel snow. Over the years, Justin has taught me a lot about snow sculpture and I’m looking forward to helping make his latest design a reality.”

Earlier this year, the pair, who first met at Leeds Canoe Club back in 2002, came fourth in the competition. They created a huge snow sculpture of Eddie the Eagle, which was the same size as a double decker bus.

The new design will be a sailing boat gliding through the snow in the mountains to fit in with the competition theme of future mobility and climate.

Once their creation is complete, Justin and Martin will go on to compete in another snow sculpture competition in Swedish Lapland, 140km north of the Arctic Circle. It will be the first time the pair will take part in the Kiruna International Snow Sculpture Competition and they will be recreating an abstract bronze sculpture of the human form by Justin using snow.

Martin added: “We are really excited to be competing in Sweden for the first time. It is a major competition and the snow there is excellent quality so it should be a great experience.”

The Swedish competition is part of the Kiruna Snow Festival, which takes place from January 25 to 29 and includes a range of other winter activities, including dog sledding, figure skating and the snow blower world championship.

Eddisons Completes £1.9 Million Project At York School

Property group Eddisons, which is headquartered in Leeds, has project managed the £1.9 million refurbishment of new dining areas, toilet blocks and classrooms at Millthorpe school, a 1,000-student York high school run by South Bank Academy Trust.

Completed this month, the project has upgraded and modernised outdated areas of the school as well as freeing up the circulation of students and staff through the building by reconfiguring areas where bottlenecks were creating logistical problems and causing lengthy lunchtime queues.

A new external covered dining area, the refurbishment and extension of the existing dining room, upgraded toilet blocks and refurbished teaching areas were all included in the scheme which took Eddisons four months to complete once work began on site this summer.

Declan Williams, a building surveyor with Eddisons’ 60-strong specialist education team, which works with school and college academy trusts to secure government funding for improvement projects and sees them through to completion, said: “We have been working with South Bank Academy Trust for four years after being approached to carry out the initial condition survey.”

“Circulation was identified as being a major issue that was disrupting the school day and that was one of our main challenges, to reconfigure the way people travel around the entire school.”

He added: “We have had excellent feedback from the school who have told us that both staff and pupils are enjoying the more orderly atmosphere and increased capacity to serve more people at lunchtimes. Some of the new, modern space we have created is multifunctional so that it can be used either as a dining room or as a teaching area, which has been particularly useful for maximising the space available.”

Millthorpe School, which is in the South Bank area of York, is expected to grow in student numbers in the coming years as nearby new housing developments at the Civil Service and British Sugar are developed. The £1.9m refurbishment project was funded by City of York Council.

Eddisons carried out the initial survey into the condition of the school buildings, as well as providing architectural and design services for the £1.9m project and project managing the construction of the new areas.